Friday, December 6, 2013

The Cat and The Crows

Aesop Rock - Crows II

"I just don't like how they look at me."

Sharon dropped her keys and purse onto the kitchen table, placing her hands palm down on either side.

"You're being ridiculous, Sharon. They're crows, for chris'sake."

"I know what they are, Daniel. Don't patronize me. I don't like the way they look at me."

"Ok, ok. I'll scare them off."

The man walked towards the door in the kitchen that led to the garage. He remembered storing an air-horn in a box somewhere in the garage a few years back. It was part of an elaborate prank that never came to fruition. Maybe he could finally put it to good use.

He found it surprisingly quick; apparently he was more organized than he gave himself credit for. That, or he just didn't own that much stuff. 

With the air-horn in hand, he pressed the button to open the garage door, waited until it rose enough to let him walk under, and headed into the hazy light of the evening hours. He stopped halfway down his driveway and looked towards the large oak tree in his front yard. The sun was setting and darkness was washing over the skyline, but the crows were still visible in the canopy of the tree.

There had to be hundreds of them, rustling the leaves, jostling and jumping from limb to limb. When he was able to identify an individual bird, he was struck by the feeling of being watched, and he diverted his gaze as quickly as possible. He would not accept that his wife was right. She was being ridiculous.

And yet, walking towards the trunk, he could not bring his gaze skyward, instead deciding to inspect the grass in his yard. He really needed to fix the riding mower and take care of his lawn.

He stopped a few feet from the trunk of the oak tree. Lifting his right hand into the air, he pressed down on the air horn's trigger mechanism, releasing a piercing, shrill blast. Instantly, a cloud of black, fluttering wings and feathers filled the sky. For a second, Daniel thought he had begun the apocalypse.

The birds swarmed above his head for a few seconds, then took off in a tight formation, as if a dark rain cloud was drifting rapidly through the sky.


Bubula sat at the window and watched intently as the dark cloud of feathers floated away. Her eyes darted from one end of the cloud to the other. A small stream of saliva dripped from the corner of her mouth.


"Well, they're gone."

Daniel placed the air-horn on the kitchen table, took off his coat, and sat in his favorite chair. The old, worn down wooden chair that Sharon hated.

"What's for dinner?" he asked.


Before the word left her mouth, the cat jumped on the kitchen table.

"Boobie! Off the table!" Sharon gently swept the feline away. The cat jumped off the kitchen table and onto the counter next to the fridge.

"Brat," Sharon said while walking to the fridge. She opened it, pulled out a small plate, then took off a small piece of fish and placed it on the counter near the loudly purring tabby.

As Sharon pet the cat and Daniel read the latest news on his smartphone, they heard a loud yet muffled sound, like a quickly passing rainstorm, outside the front windows. Daniel got up and pushed aside the curtains.

"Huh, that was odd. I don't see anything."

The cat had finished her snack and returned to her perch at the window. She stared at something outside, with her little black nose pressed against the glass.

"You see something, Boobie?" Daniel asked, his nose pressed against the glass, too.

"Did the birds come back?" Sharon asked.

"No, I don't see them anywhere," Daniel assured his wife.

"It was probably nothing. Let's eat. Come pour the milk, please."



His jolted awake. He gathered himself, threw off the covers, and put on his slippers.


He walked quickly downstairs to where his visibly shaken wife was standing in the front doorway.

"Come see this."

She turned and led him outside. His first thought was that it was a lovely day, sun shining, a crisp breeze in the air. His second thought was that it smelled like a dumpster behind a Long John Silver's. He looked to his wife, who was holding her nose with one hand and pointing towards the driveway with the other.

His new Audi and her beloved Lexus were completely, comprehensively, absolutely covered in white, black, and green streaks of bird excrement. A barely visible steam rose from the thick veneer of feces on the cars.

"Holy shit."

"Very funny I have to get to work in 15 minutes. I'm not driving around in that, and there's no way it's all coming off in 15 minutes. What am I supposed to do?"

"Ho-lee shit."

"Yes, I get it. Holy shit, haha. You really find this funny?"

"No, I..."

"This is disgusting, Daniel, and I have to get to work!"

He stood motionless, still staring at the stained vehicles. Finally, he told his wife:

"Call a cab. I'll clean them off."

"You have work in an hour."

"I'll call out. This is an emergency. This is an act of war, Sharon."

"Daniel, don't be so dramatic. It was probably that stupid air horn. You literally scared the shit out of them."

"Well that's a pretty specific target area to be a random fear-shit. No, those flying rats are sending a message."

"They're just crows, Daniel. I'll call a cab. Just please be sure to clean my entire car off. Maybe even take it to a professional."

"It'll be just fine. I don't need a professional. You know, I read somewhere that crows are some of the smartest animals in..."

"Hello?" she put her finger up towards her husband. "Sorry sweetie." She turned and walked inside. "Hi. I need a cab? Yes, as soon as possible."

Daniel continued to stare at the carnage in the driveway.

"Holy shit."


When Sharon left, Daniel headed to the garage. He first found the bin full of car wash supplies; still in the packaging, even though he bought them over 2 years ago.

After he opened the soap and sponges and towels, he searched for the hose. It was wrapped up in the corner with the 12-option nozzle he received from his father-in-law on his last birthday. He truly meant it when he told the old man he loved it, he just never had the chance to use it.

He attached the nozzle to the hose.


Maybe this would do the trick on those damn crows, if they ever showed their beaks again, which he highly doubted. Daniel knew this was their coup de grace, a grand, gross finale.

Or not.

When he finally left the garage, after putting on his thigh high fisherman boots, rubber gloves, and safety goggles, the tree in his front yard was once again bustling with black wings and feathers, loud squeaks and whistles cascading back and forth among the green leaves.

He groaned and stomped over to the water spout on the side of his garage. He plugged the hose in, turned the handle, and headed towards the tree.

About ten feet away from the tree, he stopped. He held the hose in front of him with both hands, pointing it skyward toward the crows.

"Nevermore, assholes."

He lowered his hands.

"Wait, that was a raven. Is that the same as a crow? Which are these?"

He raised his hands again, with his finger on the trigger.

"Doesn't matter. All I know're outta here!"

He pressed the trigger. A soft gentle mist sprayed out 5 feet in front of him, creating a rainbow.

"Shit." Daniel turned the nozzle on the hose to the strongest setting and tried again.

A harsh stream jet forth.

"Get out of here!" he screamed, aiming the water at the fluttering mass of wings in the tree branches.

There were some loud squeaks, and a few birds flew off their branches to a higher branch, but there wasn't the mass exodus Daniel was hoping for.

He moved closer. He spotted an individual crow (raven?) in a low hanging branch. He focused the stream on its beady little eyes.

The bird hopped around and turned its back to Daniel, water splashing off its wings. Daniel walked closer, keeping the stream on the back feathers.

He was standing almost directly under the bird, spraying its hind-parts, legs, anything visible, to no effect.

He stopped spraying.

"What the hell is up with you damn birds?"

The crow hopped around again and looked at Daniel. It seemed to be inspecting the man.

But that was ridiculous.

Daniel suddenly noticed the silence. He looked around at the rest of the tree. All the birds were eerily still, eyes fixated on the now very concerned man.

Daniel looked back towards the wet bird. For some reason, Daniel had deemed this the leader. It looked at Daniel and cocked its head, then let out three loud caws.

Daniel swore that he felt the black mass move before he saw it; or maybe he heard the hurricane-like rustling. Whichever sense was set off first, Daniel was turned around and sprinting towards his front door before he could fully process what was happening.

He could feel their presence at his back as he reached for the front door. He swung it open wildly, lunged inside, and slammed the door behind him.


An unnatural silence descended upon the house. Daniel slowly backed away towards the kitchen, keeping his eyes fixed on the small glass pane in the front door.

He didn't see or hear anything, but they were out there. He could feel it.

After a few minutes, he walked toward the large bay window. He looked around the front yard and up in the tree.


He kept scanning until finally he saw movement near the tree trunk. The curtains blocked the full view so he pushed them aside and pressed closer to the window.


The cat must have slipped out. But how? He opened the door for less than a second.

The cat circled the tree once, then jumped onto the trunk, hanging on with all four paws. Slowly, it made its way upwards. The cat climbed until Daniel could no longer see it through the leaves and branches.

He wanted to run out and coax it down, but even if his fear of the crows wasn't holding him back, he knew his efforts with the cat would be futile. It was a stubborn beast.  He just hoped it knew what it was doing up there.


When she reached a section of the treetop where several branches intertwined, she finally stopped climbing. She stretched her body along one of the branches, pressing herself down as low as possible.

Then she waited. She was ready to wait for hours, maybe days. But she knew it wouldn't take that long. Her natural instincts had always been sharp, and she had an uncanny understanding of the flight and nesting patterns of all feathered food.

She waited over 30 minutes in that position. She was about to arch her back to stretch when she heard it. It was very faint, still a good distance away, but it was undeniable: the crows were coming home.

A stream of saliva dripped from the corner of her mouth.


The yellow cab pulled up to the driveway. The driver turned his radio down and checked his phone.

"237 Fontaine St.," he read from the screen.

He looked at the house.

"237," he read off the front door. "This is it." He pressed his hand down heavily on the horn five times, keeping the pressure on the horn longer and longer each time.


The cat looked down at the yellow metal beast making all the noise. If the birds were scared off, she'd know where to take out her fury.


"Ok," she said as she walked downstairs. Daniel was in his worn out chair, looking rather worn out himself. "That's the cab. I'll call you for a ride later."

He jumped out of his chair. "Wait!"

She looked back at him as she opened the front door. "What?"

"'s just..."



"Ok. Well, please get the cars clean. And clean off the driveway too. I don't want to have to step in it."


She walked outside.


The cat watched as the front door opened. The long brown haired human who always smelled like ham strolled out.

Humans always got in the way.

The fluttering, cawing, black cloud drew nearer.


The cab honked again, slowly and loudly.


She yelled from the front door, "All right! I'm right here! I see you, and you see me. Jesus."

As she strode toward the taxi, she heard what at first sounded like a small plane flying overheard. She turned to look towards the sky, and the sun was blocked out by a fluttering black mass.

"Daniel! I thought you got rid of..." Before she could finish, the cloud was swarming around her.

Crows flew by her head, brushing her face and hair with their dark wings.

"Gahhh get them off! Ahhhhhh"


Daniel watched in horror, from inside the house, as the cloud engulfed his screaming wife.

"This will not be good."


The cabbie took his hand off the horn to watch the scene unfolding in front of the house. He had never seen so many birds in one place. They were flying around the woman like a feathered tornado. Her screams made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

This was not in the work manual.

He shifted into drive and sped off.


She watched as the human spun and swung her arms wildly. She felt genuine concern that the human would scare off the birds. The tasty, tasty birds.

She couldn't let that happen.

She knew she had to act fast, quickly crawling to a lower branch. A few crows were fluttering in and out of the lower branches, still more focused on the frantic human than finding a resting spot.

She spotted one crow perched on a low branch. She leaped down from one branch to another, then launched herself the last few feet, landing next to the unsuspecting bird. As the branch swayed downward with her weight, she looked into the crow's eyes. Before the terror could even register, she lunged forward and grabbed the bird's head with her teeth. Her momentum sent them off the branch, hurtling toward the ground.

They landed directly next to the human, the cat on all fours, with the bird's limp body hanging from its mouth, head hanging at its side.

She dropped the bird at the human's feet.


Sharon looked at the cat and the bloodied, broken bird on the ground, and let out a blood curdling scream, running towards the front door.

She didn't even notice that the black cloud had left.


Daniel watched his wife sprint towards the door. He opened it to let her in and moved to the side.

"Jesus! Jesus, Daniel did you see that?"

"No, what happened honey?"

"The birds! The damn birds! And then the cat! Look!"

They walked to the front bay window and peered out.

The cat sat in the front lawn. It looked at the couple for a few seconds, then went back to licking its blood stained paws.


The summer months came and went, with no more sign of the crows.

The body of the dead crow remained on the lawn. The head was nowhere to be found.


"Honey, I really don't want to see that dead bird every morning. Can you please do something with it?"

"Sweetie, we talked about this," he replied. "The dead crow is a warning, a reminder that this isn't a safe place for them."

"Do you honestly think that 's why they haven't come back?"

Daniel thought for a moment.


He sat on his favorite chair, where the cat was stretched out on the armrest.

"All thanks to this little girl, right?" He buried his face in the fur on her belly.

The cat purred and licked its paws.

Daniel noticed something hanging off the pad of the cat's right foot. He pulled it off. It was a small black feather.

He looked at the cat. The cat looked back at him.

Daniel could have sworn it winked at him before going back to licking its paws.


*Inspired (very loosely) by a true story*

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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